Pratibha Patil spent over Rs225 crore on her 14 foreign tours covering 24 countries, most of the time accompanied by her friends and relatives. RTI activist Subhash Agrawal says the cost incurred on her friends and relatives must be recovered from Patil in order to set an example
Pratibha Patil, who had undertaken a number of foreign trips as president, was accompanied by her friends and relatives on several occasions, reveals a Right to information (RTI) reply received by activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal. Following this disclosure, and to set an example, the government must recover all costs of travel, boarding, lodging and other aspects incurred on her friends and relatives, except her spouse, in proportionate to total expensed made on these trips, demands Mr Agrawal.
He said, “The cost should be recovered from her even by stopping her post-retirement pension and other perks and if needed through other recovery proceedings. It will be in fitness of things that she may herself offer to pay these expenses following bitter criticism on the high expenses of about Rs225 crore made on her Presidential trips."
Patil had undertaken 14 foreign trips covering 24 countries during her five-year term that ended on 25 July 2012. Her trips came under media headlines after it was revealed under the RTI Act that this had cost the exchequer over Rs225 crore.
“President Secretariat after directions from the Chief Information Commission (CIC) has now reluctantly provided complete details of large fleet of accompanying persons with the then president of India Pratibha Patil on her numerous trips in India and abroad confirming her taking friends and relations, other than her spouse, on these pleasure trips made in name of official trips. This is a gross misuse of taxpayers’ hard-earned money by none other than head of the nation,” Mr Agrawal alleged.
For example, when Patil visited United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah) and the Syrian Arab Republic (Damascus and Aleppo) between 21st and 30 November 2010, besides an official delegation and her staff and security personnel, two guests, Dr Gajendra Singh Patil and Randhirsingh Patil accompanied her. While Dr Gajendra Singh Patil is younger brother of the former president, Randhir Singh Patil is her nephew. They both were part the 97-member team that visited UAE and Syria with Patil.
Even for a five-day visit to Mauritius between 24th April and 28 April, Patil was accompanied by a 98 members, including her son, Rajendra Singh Shekhawat, daughter-in-law Manjari Shekhawat, daughter Jyoti Rathore, grandson Prithvi Singh Shekhawat and grand-daughter Vedika Rathore. There were about 24 people from the media who visited Mauritius with the president.
Notwithstanding a huge controversy over expenditure on her foreign travels, Patil, the then president ran up a bill of Rs18.08 crore on her last trip abroad shortly before demitting office, according to official information accessed through RTI.
The chartering of the Air India Boeing 747-400 jumbo for her two-nation trip to South Africa and Seychelles from 29th April 29 to 8 May 2012 alone cost Rs16.38 crore, the airline said in an RTI reply.
In addition, an expenditure of Rs1.46 crore was incurred in Pretoria—the South African capital. Of this, Rs71.82 lakh was spent on local stay, Rs52.33 lakh on transportation and Rs22.12 lakh on miscellaneous expenditure.
In Durban, an expenditure of Rs23.55 lakh was incurred. Of this, hotel stay alone cost nearly Rs18 lakh and transportation was Rs5.27 lakh. The details about the lodging and other expenditures in South Africa were provided by the Indian Missions in Pretoria and Durban under RTI.
Here are the details received by Mr Agrawal about Pratibha Patil's trips as President...
The Coimbatore-based sugar company and diversified entity disappointed amidst difficult conditions even as government attempts to decontrol the industry
Rajashree Sugars & Chemicals, which is into sugar, distillery, power and biotechnology and based in Coimbatore, has reported a net loss of Rs13.05 crore for the quarter ended in December 2012 which is improved and better than the Rs25.37 crore net loss it had recorded in the corresponding period last year. However, on a quarter-on-quarter basis, it has gone from profit to loss. For the September quarter, it had recorded net profit of Rs13.25 crore.
The story is the same for net sales as it plummeted 14%, to Rs150.86 crore for the quarter ended December 2012. This is weaker when compared to Rs175.92 crore it recorded during the December 2011 quarter.
The government’s tight control over sugar has hurt sugar companies and sugar mills. Despite gradual decontrol, problems continue to persist.
Out of the Rs161.20 crore of gross sales turnover for the quarter ended December 2012, roughly little over 82% came from sugar production alone, while cogeneration and distillery contributed to 7.45% and 9.32% respectively. Both these were down from the same period last year. Only sugar recorded net loss while the other two divisions recorded net profit. The company is into three segments: sugar, cogeneration and distillery.
Higher international sales boosted the company’s topline even as global economic environment remained challenging. It plans to invest in plants to further boost topline and bottomline
Jindal Saw, one of the leading pipe manufacturers, recorded net profit of Rs60 for the three months ended December 2012, which is 64.4% higher than what it recorded for the corresponding period a year ago at Rs36.5 crore.
Likewise, its sales turnover was higher, at Rs1,722 crore, for the December 2012 quarter, as against Rs1,093 crore for the same quarter last year. This meant sales turnover went up 67% on higher sales.
The company sold 2.59 lakh tonnes pipes, out of which overseas sales took 67% of the total pipes sold. This is respectable considering global economic environment was challenging. Domestic sales contributed to the remainder of the 2.59 lakh tonnes sold.
The company recorded as much as $500 million worth of orders during the quarter.
However, net debt remains a concern. At the end of January, its liabilities stood at Rs3,200 crore. The company remarked that it will raise long-term funds to meet capital expenditure. The company also added that it will invest in an iron o re and pellet plant to boost sales and profitability.